Your experience sounds remarkably similar to my own. Keep on posting, and welcome to the forum.Hey folks, I read a lot and post only occasiomally but thought I would add my experiences here. Been learning about these little buggers for about 4 years now. My first attemt was a nuc bought from. Local guy who swore he would not sell to me if I did not treat for mites. "They will not survive and I am not selling you my bees if you are just going to let them die"! So, I treated that nuc and it did not make it through the first winter. Luckily, a swarm moved into the vacant hive the next spring and I still have that hive going strong three years later. I set swarm traps out and have caught a couple swarms each year and that along with splits from my strongest hives has gotten me to 13 colonies. Without treatment so far.
Last year I had one hive that was very infested with mites and I was afraid it would not make it but they pulled through. That one is probably my weakest hive right now but still alive and building up nicely. When I saw the problems with this hive I got scared and checked my oldest and strongest hives for mites by cutting out drone comb and doing a count. The infested hive had mites in nearly 90% of the drone cells and many had 3 or more mites per cell. The stronger hives were in much better shape with one only showing about 10% infection rate.
I put a sticky board under the least infected hive and left it there for 24 hrs. When I pulled it out I only found a few mites. I got a small microscope out and examined the mites I found. Each of them had been chewed up pretty badly. Legs chewed completely off a couple. This hive swarmed one Saturday while I was out there looking at them (what an experience!) and I was able to catch this swarm. Yesterday this swarm captured hive was busting at the seams and I had to give them more room. Not much in terms of stores but loaded with bees and capped brood. i also made a split from the original hive last year so now I have three colonies with these genetics and all are doing very well.
My thoughts! I have split quite a bit and caught swarms so I obviously have had brood breaks which has to help. I know there are some genetics in my bees that try to control mites because I saw mites that had been attacked. I think both are working in my favor. Something else I do is never feed sugar. I leave them all the fall honey and take any excess in the spring as our flow starts. I just pulled about 4 gallons of excess Fall honey last weekend since things are starting to bloom here. I also run foundationless but I am not sure how much this plays into things. Seems like the jury is still out in this one but some of the reasons people state for foundationless makes sense to me.
Another factor that I think helps me is that I am not real close to a lot of agriculture. To the east of me is a large river swamp with no one keeping bees or growing crops there. To the west there are a few beeks about 4 to 5 miles away but other than that, as far as I know, there are not any other managed colonies.
So were the swarms I caught feral or where thay from someone's managed hives? I have no idea but I have never seen a marked queen. My bees are smaller than the first ones I got and darker in color. The queens are a deep yellow color. They are not mild mannered but also not so hot that you cannot work them. They LOVE propolis and this trait makes working the hives a lot more difficult than that first nuc I had. Again, not sure if this is a contributing factor to success or not but it is an observation.
:applause::applause::applause::applause: Yessss Sense. You are so correct.The battle you are, and will be, fighting when you get more bees is between you and keeping your bees alive.
All this effort you've expended in this fictitious and shallow battle with what other beekeepers do to manage their bees has gained you nothing.
Learn the way of the honeybees, then you'll be getting somewhere.
Remember: Crawl, Walk, then Run.
an odd way to go... We are now seeing 40% or so losses nationality, the "poor" genetics don't seem to be weeding themselves out despite massive yearly cullingI am not TF, but am doing very limited treatments this year in an effort to weed out any hives that display no varroa resistance at all